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It is commonly called Mimosa in Italy, but in reality the botanical name is Acacia dealbata, although most of the plants of the genus Acacia are characterized by the same golden balloon flowers; anciently botanists gave the name Acacia to the leguminous trees widespread in Africa, nowadays they are strictly called acacias almost mainly Australian or Asian species, while the dozens of European, North American and African species have been combined into other genera. The acacias commonly called mimosas are therefore large shrubs or small trees originating in Australia, a very distant and exotic continent; in fact, by now mimosas are widespread in cultivation in most of the globe, and even in Italy there are areas, as happens in Sicily, where mimosas are part of the wild flora, as well as being grown in gardens.
If grown in areas with a not too cold winter climate, with time they become real trees, with erect and sinuous stems, with a good branching that produces a wide crown; the leaves are pinnate, composed of small oval leaflets, dark green; at the end of winter it produces numerous yellow, small, spherical, feathery-looking inflorescences, which give off a particular, quite intense and pungent scent.
In Italy they are typically used to celebrate women's day, which is celebrated on May 8th, for several decades.
A garden plant
The mimosas are cultivated as garden plants, due to the very elegant habit, the not excessive development, and the flowering that occurs at the end of winter, when in general the garden is still quite gray; they are evergreen trees, which prefer well sunny positions, possibly with a slight shade in summer, if we grow them in pots.
They are not plants with great cultural requirements, provided they are placed in a good well-drained soil, free from water stagnation, and to receive periodic fertilizations, every 14-15 days, with a fertilizer for flowering plants, from March to October.
Water when the soil is dry, avoiding leaving it soaking for a long time, always waiting for it to dry before being wet again; they can withstand short periods of drought, which, if prolonged, can cause the foliage to fade slightly; it is advisable to avoid that the plant remains dry for a long time, even during the winter.
The fundamental problem in the cultivation of mimosas is the climate, in fact they can withstand a few night-time of sporadic temperatures just below zero, but certainly very intense or very long frosts ruin most of the plant, and can get to kill it completely .
For this reason, in the regions of northern Italy it is cultivated in pots, so that it can be left outdoors when the climate is favorable, and to be sheltered in the event of very intense cold. If possible move it to a cold greenhouse, if we do not have one we can place the vase near the house, against a wall facing south, covered with non-woven fabric. In this case let us remember not to leave the plant completely dry for the whole winter: on days with temperatures above 5-8 ° C let us remember to lightly water the substrate.
The plants grown in pots then need some additional care, as they must be repotted regularly, to ensure the root system the right space and a good amount of macroelements always available.
There is mimosa and mimosa
Indeed, there is a genus of plants called mimosa, the most famous of which is certainly mimosa pudica, an evergreen shrub native to southern America; also the mimosa produces balloon inflorescences, but of a delicate pink color, and also it has pinnate leaves, but with leaflets of much smaller dimensions than the acacia dealbata; also in this case it is a delicate plant, which fears intense frost, but unlike acacia, it develops very quickly even from seed and blooms already in the first year of life, and therefore is often cultivated as if it were an annual , letting the autumn cold kill her; it produces so many fertile seeds, it is therefore easy for new plants to be reborn every year in the place where the mother plant was present.
There is acacia and acacia
In Italy it is commonly called acacia another plant, which does not belong to the acacia genus, or robinia pseudoacacia; this tree is native to North America, it was introduced in Europe in the 1800s and soon became one of the most used trees for reforestation or for the consolidation of embankments or friable embankments, because it is a tree with very rapid development, which grows also good from seed, it sows itself, rapidly expanding its population, and also lives in areas with stony and not very fertile soil.
For this reason it is also widespread as a wild plant practically all over the world, in all continents; in many areas it is considered a weed, because it tends to suffocate native plants, making the wood population almost completely made up of locust trees, as happens in many areas in Italy. The problem lies in the fact that these plants tend to develop very quickly in height, without creating a scaffolding of branches and a wide crown, thus creating very dense and compact woods, with an undergrowth often consisting only of brambles, and not very stable, as a very tall tree, with little developed root system, and devoid of lateral branches, it becomes easy prey to wind and thunderstorms.
The black locust flowers are similar to those of the wisteria as a form, they bloom in long clusters, but they are white, very decorative and appreciated by bees; black locust honey is what we commonly find with the name of acacia honey.
What do acacias, mimosas and locust trees have in common?
They are always plants belonging to the Fabaceae genus, or leguminous plants, and they are also united externally by pinnate foliage, consisting of small oval leaves, and fruits: long pods containing seeds.